Elections

IEC shows mediocrity has become the norm in SA

The biggest loser in Wednesday’s election was an institution, not a party or any leader: the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC). Heedless of 25 years’ experience, it contrived to combine, in the words of Helen Zille, incompetence with “ineffable smugness”: double voting due to indelible ink that wasn’t; voting stations that were meant to open [...]

We all know that Ace is far from alone. Now let’s do something about it

The recent Easter weekend coincided with the intensification of campaigning for the upcoming general elections. The double advantage of a large audience and the ennoblement of the speakers with the blessings of a higher authority created a magnet for politicians to harangue congregations across the country. There were no reports of any of the political [...]

Vote for the party of obstructionists? Surely you jest

The old gag "the problem with political jokes is that they get elected" was given new meaning last weekend in embattled Ukraine. There, a television comedian, Volodymyr Zelensky, won a landslide victory, ousting hapless incumbent Petro Poroshenko. Voters ignored the latter's warning that "voting for a comedian is no joke". The obvious jokers in the [...]

SA’s parlous politics are more ‘Game of Thrones’ than Notre Dame

On Monday night, in the real world and in one of its cultural capitals, Paris, 800 years of French history and an icon of Christianity dating to the Middle Ages, went up in smoke. While the lasting damage inflicted by the fire that devastated Notre Dame Cathedral is being assessed, the global shock and horror [...]

How DA can play the coalition game while sidelining the calamitous EFF

I once compared being leader of the opposition to making bricks without straw. You desire to change things or shift opinion, but objectively lack an essential ingredient to do so. Tony Blair on the comparison said: “When I was leader of the opposition I started the day with ‘what can I say’; now that I [...]

The voices we hear – and don’t hear – as poll fever bites

The rancorous tone of the election campaign here, even before its official start, suggests many readers might prefer to take a spin in a Land Rover driven by Prince Philip than endure three more months of political noise. Expect it to get even louder and nastier. Bill Clinton, at one time a vote-winner of note, [...]

Herman Mashaba: Most vulnerable at the moment of his greatest triumph

Jacob Zuma once famously blamed Jan van Riebeeck for creating South Africa's problems. On Monday, the nation watched a chaotic marathon meeting where the most glittering metro prize of all, Johannesburg, slipped from the ANC's grasp. Now the president can go even further back in our colonial history to cast about for his party's woes. [...]

Why the election’s biggest winner was Patricia de Lille

'She posted the biggest win of any party in any city' Last Wednesday, with their pens in thousands of polling stations across South Africa, the voters delivered a stunning klap to the ruling ANC. These local polls won outsize international attention, from affirming editorials in The New York Times to the front page of London's [...]

Elections offer the promise of a political horizon in flux

SPARE a thought for Jacob Zuma, president of the sharply diminished ANC, who presided last week over his party’s worst election result since 1994. His controversial homestead in Nkandla is now in a municipality controlled by his provincial nemesis, the Inkatha Freedom Party. It doesn’t get any better when he goes to work: In Pretoria, [...]

Why Mmusi’s battle is also a test for SA

The DA leader faces a stiffer electoral test than his predecessors did, writes Tony Leon On a visit to London last month, a British friend of mine had a meeting with the leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA), Mmusi Maimane. My friend advised that he was impressed with Maimane, but embarrassed that he kept calling [...]